Island Hopping From Dumaguete City

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July 21st 2014
Published: July 22nd 2014
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Manjuyod Sandbar Off Bais BayManjuyod Sandbar Off Bais BayManjuyod Sandbar Off Bais Bay

This 7 kilometer sandbar is completely visible certain times of the day during low tide. The 4 cottages on stilts can be rented overnight or for lunch.
We snagged another great airfare deal with this Manila-Dumaguete City-Manila trip last June. Me and my 3 travel buddies. With lots of help from a young travel blogger, we likewise booked rooms in a boutique hotel and island hopping tours while basing ourselves in Dumaguete City. This meant we did things the "lazy" way --- airport transfers, boat rentals, guided tours, and lunch thrown in.

Dumaguete City is just an hour's flight from Manila. Capital of Negros Oriental famous for one of the country's oldest universities, as well as take-off point for boat and ferry trips to Apo Island, Siquijor and the country's controversial whale shark interaction site in Oslob, Cebu. One can hop to these islands and spend more time there, or simply do day trips while based in Dumaguete City. We chose the latter. Easy enough to hit 3 more islands from here.


Among the islands we visited, we fancied Apo Island for its Turtle Sanctuary there. Overcast skies, sea far from calm, we braved the hour-long boat ride to spend time with the marine turtles. Water current was strong but the turtles were completely oblivious to the
This boat is good for 15 paxThis boat is good for 15 paxThis boat is good for 15 pax

Rented this boat to take us to Manjuyod Sandbar and further on to Tañon Strait for dolphin watching. No whales this time.
sea condition nor to the humans observing them as they fed themselves. At one time, we saw a bunch of 3 or 4 huge turtles feeding, swimming up for oxygen breaks, diving down again for another feeding episode. So close to shore that one can see their heads bobbing out of the water from time to time. Quite an experience really. And while you can spend the night there, we only did a day trip and left soon after lunch. Even then, the return ride was a choppy one. We were only too happy to be back in Malatapay port where there is an active, vibrant flea market every Wednesday. Now, that's one tip for you. Should you plan to visit Apo Island, time it on a Wednesday so you can enjoy the once weekly live auction of cattle, pigs, hogs in Malatapay Market. If you are there early enough, you can even enjoy a Malatapay lechon (roast pig) breakfast!


Tañon Strait is wedged between the islands of Negros and Cebu. At one point, the distance between the 2
Marine Sanctuary in Apo IslandMarine Sanctuary in Apo IslandMarine Sanctuary in Apo Island

Nemo and his friends live a happy, quiet life here.
islands is a mere 5 kilometer near the area where you drop anchor to get to Oslob and meet whale sharks. But not today. We are on a boat to go further on to meet the playful dolphins here. Spinner dolphins we found, but I'm told there are whales too but not today. We stayed around the area for a good hour just watching them, or slowly cruising while them dolphins "escort" us. The little ones were show-offs, flying out of water and doing their spins, but our fingers on the cam weren't quick enough.

A big plus on our way to this dolphin adventure is a brief stopover in Manjuyod Sandbar. Just 10 minutes from the Bais jetty, this sandbar stretches for 7 kilometers. You can run the whole length during low tide. Just make sure the waters don't rise quick enough to submerge the entire sandbar. We dropped anchor here for a quick dip, careful not to step off the sandbar 😊 , on our way to watch the dolphins, then returned to enjoy our lunch here while watching the waters rise higher. By the time we left, the 4 cottages on stilts
Marine Turtles in Apo IslandMarine Turtles in Apo IslandMarine Turtles in Apo Island

From the shore, you actually see them bob their heads out of the water before diving again in shallow waters to feed themselves.
look like huts floating on water. Not to forget, should you hang around here and meet fisherman, do ask them about their catch. Your lunch can always do with an addition like the freshest catch of the day. In our case, a giant squid you can fit your entire arm inside it!


SIQUIJOR. Island of fire . That's because of the many fireflies that took residence in this island which gained notoriety as the voodoo capital of the Philippines. It is only lately that the island is gaining more tourist arrivals. Rightly so, as the island has lots to offer. Steeped in history, natural attractions and adventures, the island also attracts those who are willing to try faith healing and herbal medicines.

Before visiting Siquijor, I got a lot of well-intentioned advices from friends to take care and be wary of black magic supposedly practiced in this 3rd tiniest island province of the country. Our guide debunked all these myths and explained that the island suffered from piracy centuries ago that the island residents weaved these tales about voodoo and mystique surrounding Siquijor. But
Pods of Spinner DolphinsPods of Spinner DolphinsPods of Spinner Dolphins

We had our fill of dolphins; just not quick enough to capture everything in our cam.
it's true that faith healing is still practiced here. My friend reminded me that Siquijor was once a center of herbal medicine studies that scientists from Europe visited the island centuries ago. This allegedly explains the construction of the biggest convent in the country, the Lazi Convent, which became a favorite "rest and recreation" place for men from the clergy. Sounds more like "rest, recreation and research". I just hope the local authorities consider the restoration and preservation of this lovely convent and the pink-ish St. Isidore Church across the street lined with centuries-old acacia trees. The Siquijor Heritage Museum is now housed on the 2nd floor of this once-convent while the ground floor is being used as a school.


We failed to take the boat ride from Dumaguete to Santander in Cebu from where it's just an easy trip to Oslob. But we've been there before when we visited Cebu and drove 3 hours south of the capital to check on Oslob where a dozen or so whale sharks have taken up residence and were "fed" by local fishermen. A controversial issue, but I'm not getting into that. The
Malatapay Flea MarketMalatapay Flea MarketMalatapay Flea Market

On Wednesdays, there is a livestock auction. Mostly cattle, pigs and goats amidst stalls selling almost anything from dried fish, brooms, shirts, ropes, plastic toys etc.
photos here were from my niece's recent trip to Oslob to "interact" with whale sharks there. For some of you planning to make Dumaguete your homebase, you can add 3 daytrips (boat trips?) to your itinerary and thus add 3 more islands. And a sandbar!

Why Dumaguete as homebase? Well, for one, you'd find Siliman University here. This first American university is huge. It has a museum and the campus grounds boast of several lovely, centuries-old acacia trees. The school cafeteria is also worth a visit for its cheese bread and empanadas. Around the university, several dining places make for a great food adventure. Seafood is great in Dumaguete City. Local fare and Spanish- inspired and American-inspired food establishments abound. Sans Rival is more than just a bakery and pastry shop. We ate good paella here. Lab-As has fresh seafood cooked to your liking. There are also gourmet coffee shops like KRI serving burgers with truffle oil and squash bread to take out. So many choices! Because we got back to our hotel tired from a day of boat rides, snorkeling and island adventures, we turned in early for bed for another early (boat)
Playful Dolphins Off Tañon StraitPlayful Dolphins Off Tañon StraitPlayful Dolphins Off Tañon Strait

No swimming allowed here. Just wait awhile and the playful dolphins put up a good show.
start the following morning. But I bet they have a vibrant nightlife here too. Being a university town, those campus teens should be kept busy, right?

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Map Showing The 4 IslandsMap Showing The 4 Islands
Map Showing The 4 Islands

Negros. Siquijor. Cebu. Apo Island.
Negros ProvinceNegros Province
Negros Province

Map of Negros Oriental. The capital, Dumaguete City is just an Hour's drive from Bais where we took a boat to bring us to Manjuyod Sandbar and to Tañon Strait for dolphin watching.
Cottages On Stilts in Manjuyod SandbarCottages On Stilts in Manjuyod Sandbar
Cottages On Stilts in Manjuyod Sandbar

From a distance, these huts look like they're floating on water.
All of 7 kmsAll of 7 kms
All of 7 kms

During low tide, you can run the length of this sandbar.
Giant SquidGiant Squid
Giant Squid

In Manjuyod Sandbar, we "hijacked" a boat and asked the lone fisherman what he caught. This giant squid sold for 800 pesos (about US$15) which our boat crew grilled to add to our picnic lunch.
St. Francis Church in SiquijorSt. Francis Church in Siquijor
St. Francis Church in Siquijor

First landmark you'd see as soon as you arrive in the island of Siquijor.
Cambugahay FallsCambugahay Falls
Cambugahay Falls

One of many in Siquijor
Faith Healing in SiquijorFaith Healing in Siquijor
Faith Healing in Siquijor

A black stone. A mason jar filled with water. A straw. Bubbles!
Lazi ConventLazi Convent
Lazi Convent

The iconic landmark of Siquijor.
Ferry to SiquijorFerry to Siquijor
Ferry to Siquijor

Just 45 minutes from Dumaguete City.

22nd July 2014

Island Hopping
Wonderful to have all that beauty on your doorstep. A grand tale. We see you have found time for partying with Dancing Dave too. Keep on travelling!
22nd July 2014

Island hopping after the partying! Love it. Enjoy your travels too. Who knows? We might just cross paths sometime someday. [:)]
22nd July 2014

Nice island hopping!
Sounds absolutely wonderful, I hope I can make it there some day!
22nd July 2014

I'm sure you can!
Bankers stiff? Well, i worked in a bank all my career life and ..... Yes! Stiff is the word. Lol.
22nd July 2014
This boat is good for 15 pax

Lili's Tours
What a life you lead...always travelling...partying...travelling...and more partying. No wonder you are the best travel guide the Philippines has to offer! Great pics and making your country a must to visit. Another on our wish list...someone's gotta do it.
22nd July 2014
This boat is good for 15 pax

Maybe you, Denise and Dave & MJ should head over!
22nd July 2014

The Lazy Way
Sometimes it is good to be pampered. I'd like to know more about the faith healing. Did anything get cured? When we come back we want to see the whale sharks. Missing you. You should come to the U.S.
22nd July 2014

Faith Healing & Whale Sharks
Three of us tried it. One felt his knees felt better. Another thought it was a hoax. Me, my back's still in pain but I swear I felt warm all throughout the "procedure". Re whale sharks, just say when. Dumaguete is a good homebase to do 3-4 islands.
23rd July 2014
Manjuyod Sandbar Off Bais Bay

Water everywhere!
What fine adventures above and under the water! Walking on that sandbar seems rather magical--like walking on the water. Once again, you and you friends found amazing spots on your lovely islands!
6th October 2014
All of 7 kms

amazing sand bar
Hi Tita Lili! Where is this po? Im going home for the holidays and I plan to go to Dumaguete and Siquijor. Did you spend three separate day trips to the three islands from Dumaguete or just one day for all three po? Wow I've been searching a lot of blog about Dumaguete, and this one is so far the most interesting and offered so much things on how to enjoy as much amazing sights and adventure in it and surrounding islands.
12th October 2014
All of 7 kms

Hi Aries
We based ourselves in Dumaguete and took day trips to (1) Apo Island (2) Manjuyod Sandbar and Dolphin Watching in Tañon Strait. And (3)Siquijor. You can also do another day trip to Oslob for whale shark watching. They have local travel agents there. If you're still intereested, I can patch you up with a travel agent.
14th March 2015

if you go to dumaguete my advice is DO NOT drive at night as there are many stupid people here who drive motorbikes at night with absolutely no lights on their bikes maybe now its getting to 1 in 5 people and they do not care for your safety the safety of their children as they also carry them on the bikes with no lights and hey the police do absolutely nothing about it
7th February 2016

Hi! Stumbled upon your blog entry and wanted to do all three islands for my upcoming Dumaguete trip. How many days did you do this? May I ask for the contact number of whoever fixed your airport transfers, boat rentals and guided tours? Thanks in advanced. :)
16th February 2016

My friend arranged everything for us. 3 days doing 3 islands. Email
29th January 2017

I clearly haven't travelled locally enough
This trip sounds amazing! And isn't it crazy how this post got more than 4k views!
1st October 2018

Such a good blog...
Thank you for this great post. These areas are some of the best the Dumaguete city has to offer. I have lived in dumaguete all through out college and still yet to findout everything Dumaguete has to offer. But thank the heavens, i found; here you can find most of the restaurants, hotels, and resorts in just one site. if you want to visit Dumaguete and other parts of Negros or the neighboring places, try visiting the website You can book tours there and find restaurants, it's cheaper and easier for the people to get around. Thanks for sharing!!

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